Esperat lawyer: warrants of arrest vs masterminds sent to local police 3 weeks ago but…

MAKATI CITY (MindaNews/28 February) — Warrants of arrest versus the pinpointed masterminds behind the March 2006 killing of Tacurong City columnist Marlene Esperat have been issued and sent to the Philippine National Police regional offices in Region 12 (Southwestern Mindanao) and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Nena Santos, lawyer of Esperat’s family told an international conference on Impunity and Press Freedom at the Manila Peninsula hotel here.

But Santos said there has been no report that the warrants against Osmena Montaner, finance officer and regional accountant Estrella
Sabay of the Department of Agriculture in Region 12 (Southwestern Mindanao), had been served.

ARMM police chief Joel Goltiao told MindaNews in a text message that they have “not received the warrants of arrest.”

The warrants were issued on February 4 by Judge Simeon Dumdum in the Cebu court where the case is being heard.

Esperat, a chemist at the Department of Agriculture turned whistleblower on corrupt practices in the regional office, was gunned down on March 24, 2005, a Maundy Thursday, while she was having dinner with her two young sons at their residence in Tacurong City.

Esperat wrote “Madame Witness,” a column for a local weekly, Midland Review.

During her employment in the DA regional office from 1987 to 2004, she discovered several cases of graft and corrupt practices involving
misuse of public funds intended for use of marginalized farmers.

She accused Montaner and Sabay of corrupt practices. The two had been identified as the masterminds in the Esperat killing by ex-military intelligence agent Rowie Barua, who helped plan the assassination but later turned state witness.

Santos said the two were last seen at the DA regional office on February 2.

(Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)

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